Indie Mixtape 20: Jonathan Rado’s Latest Solo Project Is A Freewheeling Homage To Friendship

After making a name for himself in the indie duo Foxygen, Jonathan Rado swiftly became known as an in-demand producer, working with artists like Weyes Blood, Father John Misty, and The Killers, to name a few. But after years of producing music for other people, Rado is once again focusing on his own music. For the first time since 2013’s Law And Order, Rado is readying the release of another solo project: For Who The Bell Tolls For.

In many ways, For Who The Bell Tolls For is an homage to friendship: Friends who Rado has lost (namely his mentor, famed producer Richard Swift, and illustrator/animator Danny Lacy), and friends present, whom Rado invited into his studio to experiment with no end goal in mind. Those carefree sessions are what ultimately led to his album coming to fruition. “I didn’t know I was even making an album. And I guess I couldn’t even express anything into words then,” Rado said in a press statement.

But unlike other projects that reflect on the untimely passing of those held dear, you won’t hear any “sad” songs on Rado’s album. Instead, sunny chords are imbued with a distinct melancholy, as Rado sings of the difficulty of someone’s absence on tracks like “Easier.” “I always felt like he had a levity when it came to serious situations, for better or worse,” Rado said.

Ahead of the release of For Who The Bell Tolls For, Rado sits down with Uproxx to talk solving a Rubik’s cube, sleeping in a Denny’s parking lot, and Googling yourself in our latest Q&A.

What are four words you would use to describe your music?

Oblique, Strategy, Rock, Roll.

It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?

Good Question! No idea!

Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?

Richard Swift taught me everything I know. He taught me to be confident in my sounds.

Where did you eat the best meal of your life and what was it?

For my 30th birthday, my wife took me took the Nozawa sushi bar, which was mind-blowing.

Tell us about the best concert you’ve ever attended.

I saw Brian Jonestown Massacre at a warehouse downtown in 2005. They played for 3 or 4 hours. Somebody had stolen Anton’s iPod from the DJ booth and he essentially did a “everybody close your eyes and whoever did it return it to the stage with no consequences” thing. I also remember him threatening not to play “Supersonic” until they returned his iPod.

What song never fails to make you emotional?

John Conlee’s “A Lot Of Things Different.”

What’s the last thing you Googled?

“Jonathan Rado net worth”

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?

After finding bedbugs at a hotel in Canada, we crashed at a Denny’s parking lot & our drummer Shaun slept on the roof of the U-Haul.

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform and what’s the city you hope to perform in for the first time?

I would love to play in Japan. I enjoyed playing in Switzerland.

What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

What’s one of your hidden talents?

I can do one side of a Rubik’s cube in under a minute.

What are your thoughts about AI and the future of music?

I’m fascinated by the possibilities and scared of the consequences.

Who’s your favorite person to follow on social media?

Perfume Genius on TikTok.

What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?

I have no tattoos.

What is your pre-show ritual?

Get scared and empty my bowels.

Who was your first celebrity crush?

Leo DiCaprio.

You have a month off and the resources to take a dream vacation. Where are you going and who is coming with you?

I will go to Japan with my wife Jackie

What is your biggest fear?

That I’m a huge fraud.

For Who The Bell Tolls For is out 12/1 via Western Vinyl. Find more information here.

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